Young Lions vs Balestier Khalsa: Time for the youngsters to roar?

S.League | Jalan Besar Stadium | Wed Sept 20 | 7.30pm

BILLED AS

Young Lions’ chance for their first win of the season.

THE LOWDOWN

Young Lions Recent Form

  • Hougang United 2-1 Young Lions
  • Young Lions 0-4 Tampines Rovers
  • Young Lions 0-1 Albirex Niigata S
  • Geylang International 2-1 Young Lions
  • Young Lions 0-0 Warriors

Both teams will be going into this tie on the back off one-goal defeats, with Young Lions losing to Hougang United 2-1 on Friday and Balestier going down to Tampines 1-0 on Sunday. 

Young Lions sit at the bottom of the table, where they have been since Matchday 1.  They are on track to register their worst season ever, with only three points from 16 games.

Balestier Khalsa Recent Form

  • Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
  • Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
  • Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Brunei DPMM
  • Balestier Khalsa 2-2 Warriors
  • Balestier Khalsa 0-0 Hougang United

But if their performances in the last few games tell anything, it is that they have been improving since Vincent Subramaniam took over in July. 

They almost earned their fourth point of the season against Hougang, if not for Khairulhin Khalid’s heroics late in the game. 

A repeat performance would do the Young Lions good, especially when Balestier fields a tired side on Wednesday.  The visitors only have two full days of rest going into this tie, compared to Young Lions’ four, and the fatigue will surely show.

The visitors are currently 13 points away from sixth-placed Hougang United, who have two games in hand. 

TEAM NEWS

Balestier will welcome the return of Huzaifah Aziz and Ahmad Syahir, who were missing from their last match against the Stags due to suspension. 

Apart from that, both sides have relatively full squads to field on Wednesday.

KEY BATTLE: MUHAIMIN SUHAIMI VS ZAIFUL NIZAM

In this classic battle between youthful flair and veteran experience, Young Lions’ joint-top goalscorer will hope to add to his tally of two goals against Zaiful. 

Already in his fifth season at the Toa Payoh-based side, Zaiful was instrumental in helping lift the Tigers’ first-ever pieces of silverware, the League Cup in 2013 and the Singapore Cup in 2014.

THE COACHES: VINCENT SUBRAMANIAM VS MARKO KRALJEVIC

Subramaniam, previously an elite coaching instructor with the Asian Football Confederation before taking up the role at Jalan Besar Stadium, has not shied away from the headlines since taking over Young Lions in July and is known for being a no-nonsense coach.

He has also made a positive impact thus far and will be hoping his players turn up for this tie.

Currently in his third year at Balestier, Kraljevic is no stranger to Singapore football, having played for Tampines Rovers and the former Balestier Central in the ‘90s.

He will be hoping his Myanmarese trio of Aung Kyaw Naing, Kyaw Zayar Win and Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit find the net on Wednesday.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • The last time the Young Lions won a game was May last year, beating Warriors 3-1. Since then, they have drawn six games and lost 23.
  • Last season, one of the Young Lions’ two wins came against Balestier in the first game of the season, where they won 1-0 at home. 
  • Balestier have just four more games to earn nine points and equal last season’s tally of 19 points, where they finished second from bottom.

PREDICTION

2-1 to the youngsters. The Young Lions will take advantage of the tired Tigers, claiming a long overdue first win. 

Photos: S.League